(Pause for going off at a tangent. "Touched": I had to write "honoured" as well just to make sure no reader thought I meant round the bend because "touched" can mean that as well as overcome by emotion.)
We do try to offer a variety of subjects in our miserable scribblings but today we intend to go farther than we have ever gone before. To do so we will travel by bus. Not the great six-wheeler, diesel-engined monarch of the road beloved by Messrs Flanders and Swann, the London Transport omnibus, but a similar object. Ours, however, is dressed in a red and cream livery rather than the plain red overcoat as worn in London. I refer to the vehicles in the fleet of Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company Limited.
Every bus in their fleet is named. And I don't mean names like Bluebell, Daisy or Skylark. Nor names of famous landmarks such as Arundel Castle. Our buses have human names - real human names like Virginia Woolf, Dusty Springfield and Rudyard Kipling. And how are the names chosen? According to the bus company's web site:
...since 1999, every new bus that has entered the fleet has been named. The main criterion for inclusion is that the deceased person made a significant contribution to the area or had a strong connection during their lifetime. As more contemporary names have been suggested another criteria is that the person has been deceased for at least a year.The names are painted on the fronts of the buses so they can be something of a danger, presenting an opportunity for on-coming drivers to try to read the names and ponder on what the named person did for Brighton, or even just who the person was. Many a name means nothing to me. A book has been published listing all these so-called prominent people - or one can simply check out the bus company's web site which carries a list of the names and the numbers of the buses to which they have been allocated. Each name also provides a link to another page giving a potted biography of the person concerned.